While students at Georgian College finish up their classes in May, the Ontario school’s IT department will be going live with a virtualization project that will consolidate 30 servers into about a dozen.
Georgian College, which has campuses in Bracebridge, Owen Sound and Orillia, among other locations, has chosen VMware software to handle its virtualization chores. The project is being guided by consultants from Dell Canada, with whom Georgian College formed a formal vendor of record relationship about two years ago. The school had been standardized on IBM equipment for six years before switching to Dell’s lineup, including its Optiplex GX620 desktop computers in the library, classrooms and individual study labs, 14 Dell PowerEdge 2850 servers and a Dell/EMC CX3-20 SAN array. Georgian College’s full-time faculty, meanwhile, are using Latitude D820 notebooks.
Like many organizations, Georgian College director of information technology David Johnson said virtualization is a way of dealing with under-utilized servers. The school is also switching from Novell software to a Microsoft environment, despite an agreement between the two firms late last year to help clients more easily manage heterogeneous operating system and server environments.
“Once the Windows operating system matured, finding the industry was putting more effort and dollars in Windows development. Novell slowly got in the way,” said Alf Bloomfield manager of client services at Georgian College. “A few years ago I wouldn’t have dared move to a Microsoft environment unless I had a lot more money for hardware.”
Johnson agreed. “We didn’t have to purchase additional hardware,” he said. “We have our VMware environment and we’re running the production servers through it.”
Dell Canada’s server product manager Kevin Smith said projects like virtualization are helping drive demand for its enterprise consulting services. “Things have gotten so complex that our customers are really looking for help not only in designing solutions but getting them deployed and supporting them after the fact,” he said.
Georgian College has opted to lease its Dell equipment, including the servers, through a separate deal with the vendor’s financing department. Bloomfield said the arrangement allows it to even out purchasing cycles.
“It’s always been somewhat of an issue to find money to purchase. There was always begging and negotiations to try and redirect funds to refresh an academic lab,” he said. “Now you’ve got an allotment of money to set aside.
More customers are considering the same option, Smith said. “If you’re buying one server at a time and doing virtualization projects, the costs can be harder to justify right off the bat,” he said.
Johnson said Georgian College does a periodic refresh about once every summer and will most likely be turning to Dell for additional equipment in a few month’s time.